Three community members who are part of the effort to rename the track at Carver Park after longtime Yuma track coach Walter McCloud spoke on the topic during the call to the public section of Yuma Union High School District’s monthly meeting Wednesday evening.
Two of those who spoke were relatives of Philip Aitken, who lives out of state and started a petition to rename the track that has so far garnered nearly 1,500 signatures.
After both Jennifer and Ashley Aitken, the mother and sister of Philip Aitken, in addition to another community member, spoke and the call to the public was finished, Board President Phil Townsend requested that a future agenda item regarding the name change be considered.
During their time speaking at the meeting, both Aitken women stressed the impact that McCloud has had on both individuals and the community.
“If ever an athlete came to him with a desire to learn the sport and no clue where to begin, he worked with them to identify their potential and find a place for them on the team,” said Jennifer Aitken.
Ashley Aitken, during her time addressing the board, brought up YUHSD’s guiding motto of making sure that every student is “college, career and community prepared.”
“He did that, he literally exemplifies that,” she said.
Jennifer Aitken said during her time that McCloud “exposed children from Yuma, Arizona, to new experiences across the country.”
“Taking the team everywhere from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Seattle, Washington; Gainesville, Florida, to Buffalo, New York,” she said. “He orchestrated a way for the youth of Yuma, Arizona, to not only participate in track and field, but to be true competitors both locally and nationally.”
McCloud was also in attendance during Wednesday evening’s meeting, though Ashley Aitken said that “he’s not the kind of man to call attention to himself.”
McCloud was previously the track coach at both Yuma High School and Yuma Catholic High School, in addition to the Yuma Valley Flyers track team.
“In a town of many differences — cultural, political, socio-economical, etcetera — coach McCloud fostered an environment where all can come together in the name of track and field,” said Jennifer Aitken.